Recently, a church member shared a heartbreaking story. It concerned us greatly, and we want to do the right thing for both parties involved.
The church member explained to us that she and her four young children had just settled into the church pew one Sabbath while the announcements were being shared
from the pulpit. She had given one of her boys some coloring pages and crayons, while another son was turning pages in his nature book. A few seconds later, an older
woman sitting in the pew in front of the young mother looked backed at her and gave the young mom “the glare.” The older woman then proceeded to tell her that her kids
were being very noisy and offered to “teach” the younger mom some parenting skills that would help her with children.
Understandably, this young mom was upset and annoyed. We have several concerns, but what is most disturbing is that the young mother is understandably reluctant to
return to church.
My husband and I want our church to be a safe, nurturing environment where families thrive and grow closer to Jesus. We are thankful we were informed about this incident,
but it’s troubling to think about other incidents that we may never know about.
Wanting the Best
Dear Wanting the Best,
It would be wonderful if situations like the one you described could be avoided altogether. Unfortunately, incidents like this are way too common—and often unavoidable.
Thankfully, with prayer and wisdom found in God’s Word, there are hopeful options for both parties involved. First, affirmation to the young mom is essential! Praise and encouragement will go a long way. Thank her for being faithful and committed to “training up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV).
Getting our families into the car on Sabbath can be challenging enough, even without the burden of meeting others’ expectations as well. Some of us have “been there,” and if not, we at least have observed other families juggling little ones amid whimpers, giggles, and frustrations. Moms and dads are to be commended for bringing their children to Sabbath School and church in spite of the challenges. I remember those struggles as a young mother, and some days were just hard. Often, I felt like all eyes were on me, and I couldn’t get to the back door fast enough!
Consider kindly offering help to the young mom, if needed. Also, praying with her and for the older woman would be beneficial. We never know what people are going through, and maybe the woman was just having a rough day. Suggest that the young family sit in a different section at church, if she feels that is necessary. Also, providing opportunities to attend a social event outside of church can help families come to know each other better and understand individual circumstances.
As for the comments from the older woman, a visit to her from the pastor and an elder or another church leader would be appropriate. Naturally, we avoid conversations
that bring critical comments to light, but creating a healthy, safe environment is a win-win for everyone. Kindly evaluating the scenario with her can foster spiritual growth. With thoughtful encouragement, she will realize that we all are a work in process, and we all have room to grow.
It’s not our job to change others, but it is our responsibility to love them, with Jesus’ help. God alone is responsible for change, and as we pray, miracles will spring forth. God will bless you and your husband as you seek to cultivate a healthy church environment for families.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV).
Desiring God’s Best,